The national football team of Morocco, known as “the Atlas Lions,” represents the country in men’s international soccer competitions. It is governed by the Royal Moroccan Football Federation (FRMF). The team’s colors are red and green. They are affiliated with both FIFA and the Confederation of African Football (CAF).
On the global stage, Morocco achieved victory in the 1976 African Cup of Nations, as well as two African Nations Championships and a FIFA Arab Cup. They have participated in the FIFA World Cup on six occasions. In 1986, they made history by becoming the first African team to finish at the top of their group in the World Cup and reaching the knockout stages. However, they were defeated by the eventual runners-up, West Germany, with a score of 1-0.
The Atlas Lions
In the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Morocco surpassed all expectations by finishing first in their group, which included Croatia, the runners-up of the 2018 World Cup. They also defeated strong teams like Belgium, Spain, and Portugal. They were eliminated by the defending champions and eventual runners-up, France, and lost in the 3rd place playoffs against Croatia, ultimately finishing in 4th place, their highest ever ranking.
In the date of April 1998, ” the Atlas Lions” were ranked 10th. They held the top position among African national teams for three consecutive years, from 1997 to 1999, and again since December 2022.
When Does it Found?
The Morocco national team was established in 1928 and played their inaugural match on December 22nd of that year against France’s B team, in which they suffered a 2-1 defeat. Comprised of the finest footballers from the Moroccan Football League (LMFA), which included both settlers and natives, the team engaged in friendly matches with other North African teams like Algeria and Tunisia.
Alongside their own championship, these associations of settler clubs and local players competed against each other in a tournament that Morocco emerged victorious in multiple instances, such as the 1948-1949 season.
The LMFA also encountered club teams like NK Lokomotiva Zagreb in January 1950, as well as France A and France B. Against France A, the LMFA achieved a 1-1 draw in Casablanca in 1941.
In response for a eartquake, the French Football Association and the inhabitants of the Maghreb organized a charity match on October 7th, 1954, to raise funds for the affected families.
The match took place at the Parc de Princes in Paris, pitting a team comprising players from Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia against the French national team. Led by the talented Larbi Benbarek, the Maghreb selection secured a 3-2 victory.
First Playings in International Stage
Moroccon national football team made their debut in a major international tournament during the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. Led by manager Mohamed Massoun, they found themselves in a three-team group after North Korea’s withdrawal. Unfortunately, Morocco suffered defeats in both matches, facing a heavy loss against Hungary (6-0), their worst-ever defeat, and losing to Yugoslavia (3-1) despite initially taking the lead in the second minute through Ali Bouachra.
In 1966, the Moroccan Football Association joined the Confederation of African Football (CAF), enabling their participation in CAF-organized competitions. During the qualifiers for the 1968 Olympics, Morocco refused to play against Israel, ultimately leading to their replacement by Ghana.
In 1968 and 1969, Morocco aimed to secure a place in the 1970 World Cup in Mexico. They successfully eliminated Senegal (1-0) and Tunisia in the preliminary rounds. In the final stage, competing against Sudan and Nigeria, Morocco earned five points, finishing ahead of Nigeria and qualifying for the World Cup for the first time. However, they faced a setback when they lost the crucial play-off against Algeria for entry into the final stage of the 1970 Africa Cup of Nations.
Morocco became the first African national team to qualify for a World Cup after participating in an elimination tournament. The team, under the guidance of Yugoslav coach Blagoje Vidinić, comprised solely of players from the Moroccan league, including Driss Bamous and Ahmed Faras.
On June 3rd, 1970, in a surprising turn of events, Morocco national football team took an early lead against West Germany with a goal by Houmane Jarir in the twenty-first minute. However, in the second half, West Germany’s Uwe Seeler and Gerd Müller scored, resulting in a 2-1 victory for the Germans. Morocco’s next match was against Peru, where they conceded three goals within ten minutes, leading to a 3-0 defeat. On June 11th, 1970, in their final game, Morocco drew 1-1 with Bulgaria, with Maouhoub Ghazouani scoring a comeback goal in the sixtieth minute. This draw marked the first point earned byan African national team in the World Cup.
In the 1972 Africa Cup of Nations qualification, the Atlas Lions eliminated Algeria and faced Egypt, winning 3-0 in the first leg but suffering a 3-2 defeat in the return leg. Nevertheless, they qualified for the final phase of the continental tournament for the first time. In the group stage, Morocco achieved three 1-1 draws against Congo, Sudan, and Zaire, but they were eliminated in the first round. Ahmed Faras scored all three goals for Morocco during this stage.
In the qualifiers for the 1972 Olympics, Morocco national football team secured two wins and two draws, entering Group A. They started with a goalless draw against the United States, followed by a 3-0 loss against hosts West Germany. However, they bounced back with a remarkable 6-0 victory over Malaysia, with Faras scoring a hat-trick.
Despite this victory, Morocco was eliminated in the second round after consecutive defeats against the USSR (3-0), Denmark (3-1), and Poland (5-0). The performance in these tournament remains the best indicator by the Atlas Lions at the Olympic football tournament.
In the 1974 World Cup qualifiers, Morocco progressed through three qualifying rounds before reaching the final round with Zambia and Zaire. After suffering a 4-0 defeat away to Zambia, Morocco responded with a 2-0 victory in the second leg. They faced Zaire for their third game but lost 3-0, conceding all three goals.